An American Mystagogue

Imagine If People Were Labeled According to Their Actions


adam and eve


Yuri Pavlovich Annenkov (1889-1974)

Imagine if people were labeled according to their actions. Imagine a world in which if you claimed to be something that you absolutely did not fit the definitions of, no one would humor you. You could join any religion, subscribe to any ideology, or participate in any philosophy, but you would actually have to learn and live by their tenants, history or foundation.

For now, we live in a culture that chooses to suspend disbelief and accept any self-identifying statement. You can say you are a Christian, a philosopher of one kind or another, a communist, an anarchist, a pacifist without having to actually live the life of a Christian, a philosopher, a communist, an anarchist or a pacifist. You are perfectly free to spout off any old label you want, and so long as you believe it enough the majority of those around you will not only accept your self-definition as valid, but they will also use any and everyone who self-identifies along with you to define in their eyes your ‘group’.

Whether or not you even deserve the label. This is called Orthodoxy. Orthodoxy means “Right-Belief’, and Orthodoxical cultures are far more concerned about what people believe in, and that they believe in the Right Thing. You may be wondering, but yes, as far as I can see Western Culture is highly Orthodoxic anywhere that Christian churches hold or held major cultural sway. This includes, of course, the United States of America. Even the militant atheists and anti-theists are so wound up in tradition (because they don’t know any other way due to cultural isolation) that they are unknowingly Orthodoxic, and are concerned not usually with how a theist or religious person lives their life, but rather more concerned that they Believe Rightly.

Christians are concerned with what others believe over what they do as well. This is why you get, well, American Christians. They aren’t all bad (neither are the Atheists) but I’ve been around. I’ve walked through the bible belt, the Mid-West and Eastern Coast. I’ve been places, and the unifying trait of American Christians is a sort of strict non-participation. They get upset if you question their beliefs, or if you voice certain beliefs that they do not approve of. They want to monitor the information that could possibly reveal other beliefs to their children, and even the children of strangers in the case of censorship. Even the moderates feel that “believing in God” is quite enough to be considered a true Christian.

This means that one needn’t actually do anything Christ-like. They don’t have to follow any tenants of the Bible, they don’t have to care for the poor or needy or question the financial and violent  basis of their country. They do not have to do anything, and we accept them as Christians anyway. We will accept that people are what they believe while completely ignoring their actions.

There was a time, back in the day, when I knew a guy who called himself a Communist. But every day for work he’d get up, go to the chain store he worked at, and slave away like the rest of us Capitalists. He’d avoid doing things like saving the perfectly good food his bosses wanted him to throw out, which friends of his suggested he give to the homeless. He was too afraid to lose his job. He was too afraid he wouldn’t’ be able to pay his bills. I understand this. I get it. Its for survival and to fill a lifestyle standard.

But why call yourself a Communist at all? Why define yourself about ‘thinkies that make me feel warm and fuzzy” instead of the actual things one spends time doing? The “Communist” friend still acted in a way that was basically the same as all the people around who would consider themselves capitalists. For all intents and purposes, he was a capitalist playing pretend, and with no obvious benefit to his life.

Listen, I’ll be straight with you. Belief can be a great tool. Pragmatism is not a bad philosophy. But you have to take into account self-delusion, especially when your culture is based on an unspoken agreement to grant such self-delusions wholly and (worse) easily to people.

They don’t have to earn the label, but merely assume the title.

And everyone plays into it.

Imagine if people were labeled according to their actions.

~ Seth Moris

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